Interview with Mike Kiker from St James & The Apostles

St James & The Apostles are a garage blues band that veers from giddy, stomping rock n roll numbers to bruised ballads. Instead of a lengthy description, here is the video for the resolutely filthy ‘Rent Boy Blues’:

and, freshly released, the brand new video for an extended and thoroughly bad-ass ‘Shavonne’:

In September they released their second album, Via Dolorosa:

Via Dolorosa cover art

Which is available for streaming and download right here, along with other goodies…

Without further ado, I caught up with organist (and much more) Mike Kiker to pose him a few questions:

How would you describe the music of St James & The Apostles?

Loud! And quiet.

What’s your music background and how did you come to be involved with Jamie Mahon?

Well, I did the typical music geek thing in school. Marching band, jazz band, etc. I started just picking up whatever I could by ear on whatever instrument I could get my hands on, but I’m glad I eventually picked up what music theory my brain could handle.

As for getting together with Jamie and Jeff, we’re all actually cousins. We’re similar to the Wu-Tang Clan in that respect (If I have to compare, I think I’m RZA, Jeff’s GZA, and Jamie is Ol’ Dirty Bastard, but that’s another topic in and of itself). We all came up in different music scenes, but the family connection eventually brought us together, musically and personally.

Is there a conscious effort to not sound like his former band The Three 4 Tens?

Well, the Apostles pretty much picked up where Three 4 Tens left off, it was a slow and steady transition for sure. I played with that band for about a year and a half before we became St. James & The Apostles, even doing some songs at that time that would eventually end up as Apostles material, but we really didn’t “become” St. James & The Apostles until Jeff became the drummer. During my time with T4T, we had a bass player and like 7 or 8 drummers revolving in and out of the line-up (yes, a lot like Spinal Tap, even a spontaneous combustion or 2 was involved). But we did want to be heavier, louder, and dirtier than anything Three 4 Tens ever put out, but I still love the Three 4 Tens music. I pretty much grew up on it.

Which songs are you the most fun to play live? I bet ‘Let The Right One In’ goes down a storm…

I always love playing that song. That one’s been there almost since the beginning, and I never get sick of playing it. As for new songs, I love doing “Via Dolorosa” and “Lazarus”. We’ve got a new song that was written after the record was finished that Jeff affectionately calls “Golden Axe” that I’m quite fond of.

There are religious themes and sounds at work within the band’s music – is there a story / message behind this?

Well, I used to be church organist. While I’m no longer a religious person, I certainly don’t regret that experience. I learned a lot in the way of bass pedal technique, and theory, but I realized that I really only wanted to play “rock keyboards”, and be more daring and experimental than what the Catholic church would allow. I wouldn’t say we have a particular “message”, other than, do what you like, as long as your not hurting anybody else, but there is a lot of love, loss, regret, but also salvation in our music, but not the same kind of salvation that we keep hearing about. More like, salvation by any means necessary.

What is your view on the current psych scene and the plethora of bands around? Any favourites?

There is some great music coming out now that could be considered psychedelic. I’d like to think that tag is very flexible. What I’m not a fan of is genre purists. I love bands that are experimental with their genre and style and are hard to pinpoint. We’re kind of in that same boat, and I always look for that quality in other new music.

As for new bands that inspire me, off the top of my head; 

Black Mountain, I loved Tame Impala’s first album, GOAT, Ty Segall/Fuzz, The Mad Doctors, Electric Citizen’s album is killer, Little Barrie, Wolf People, The Budos Band, and probably my newest favorite is Hedersleben. They tour the States with Nik Turner from Hawkwind as his opening act and backup band. Their new album is stellar and they play the Hawkwind material with such gusto. I absolutely adore their keyboard player, Kephera Moon. We were lucky enough to play with them last year. Hands down, still my favorite gig that we’ve been lucky enough to be apart of.

Does the internet make it easier or harder to find an audience?

Both. There’s too much noise and it’s hard to filter out that noise so you can find the good stuff. I will say it’s helped me discover a lot of my newer favorite bands. We can only hope that it will help people discover us in the same way.

Once you’ve toured Via Dolorosa, what next?

We’ve already got maybe 4 or 5 new songs that we’re working on already. We never, ever stop creating new material. If we did, it would definitely get boring. We’re going to spend the winter months dialing back the gigs to start work on record #3, but we plan on continuing promotion for VIA DOLOROSA into the spring and summer of 2015, hopefully doing a more full scale tour either relatively close to home or hopefully go out to the west coast or the UK, depending on how things go over the next few months.

On a personal note, I happen to know you’re a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 fan, what are your favourite episodes?

“Pod People”, favorite episode hands down.
The recording studio scenes are near and dear to my heart. “He is really good!” “Good? He’s the best!”
It’s like the filmmakers did absolutely ZERO research into how to make a record, and I love it for that!
The “Idiot Control Now” parody and “New Age Music” sketches get me giggling every time.
“It stinks!”

For anyone bewildered by any of this, this may provide some answers (and possibly more questions). Brace yourself for ‘Idiot Control Now’…

Thanks to Mike for the interview and don’t forget, Via Dolorosa is available now on Bandcamp…


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